We order chemicals from all sorts of suppliers – big, reputable outfits like Sigma-Aldrich-Fluka all the way down to places that none of us even have heard of before. In those latter cases, the primary question is always whether or not the reagent will actually show up, and the secondary one is how long it’ll take. There are some of those small suppliers who pad their catalog with things that aren’t exactly available, not yet – but hey, they will be if someone orders them. They’ll just tell you it’s back-ordered, and tell someone in the lab to get cracking.
And when you get your compound in, they arrive in various forms. Glass or plastic bottles are the norm, naturally, with the occasional irritating (but presumably necessary) sealed-glass ampoule. But after some time in the lab, you can tell some of the suppliers from across the room. For example, the Japanese company TCI sends a lot of its compounds in normal-looking glass bottles, but these are first put inside capped plastic containers, like larger translucent versions of the ones that 35mm film probably still comes in. And once you taken them out, their glass bottles have these odd plastic labels on them which come up around the screw cap and are perforated around the cap’s border. On the labels, they also have that same thin, fussy, serif font that the Japanese have been using for Roman-style letters for decades (since the war?) and is only in recent years disappearing from their world.
Maybridge, British vendor of all kinds of odd stuff, often sends its compounds in these weird little squat brown-glass bottles with small black caps on them. They must have the world supply of that particular bottle shape tied up, since I’ve never seen one anywhere else. It most resembles the small bottles that solutions for injection are packaged in. So many of the company’s catalog items are in such bottles (or even smaller ones) that it seems wrong somehow when you come across a huge (huge for Maybridge) hundred-gram bottle with their label on it.
Most of the suppliers have neutral-sounding names like those above. They could be chemical companies, vendors of kitchen cabinets, real estate trusts, who knows: Maybridge, Oakwood, Lancaster (now gone, and their blue labels with them). And some of them are unmistakably in the chemical supply business, but rather blandly named (Pharmacore, for example, or Chembridge). Some names are, perhaps, mistakes: the namers of Asinex, for example, seem to have been unaware that the closest Engish word is “asinine”, which means that they have to hope for people to pronounce that “s” as if it were a “z”. (I should mention that both Asinex and Chembridge indulge in one widely hated practice: putting no useful information on their tiny vials other than a catalog number or bar code – Bionet (Key) is a similar offender).
In this dull company, I’m always glad to see the weirdos. I miss the now-purchased-away British supplier called Avocado – green labels, naturally – and always wondered who named them and why. Tyger Scientific makes me wonder if there’s an English major in somewhere at their founding, fond of William Blake. And there’s one company that came into the industry under the glorious name of, I am not making this up, “Butt Park”, and many are the chemists they’ve made stand puzzled in front of the supply cabinet. (I'd provide a link, but I can't find a direct one, and Googling it can be a real minefield).
I refuse to consider that name a mistake. That's a feature, not a bug, and I wish that there were more competition in the category. I would proudly and purposely send business to, say, Batshit Chemical Supply, Inc., even if they back-ordered me every single time.